WFP Steps Up Distributions in Eastern Congo

Rome, 24 November 2008 - WFP is increasing its food distributions, not only in the six camps for displaced people near the regional capital, Goma, but also in three camps to the north-west, in territory held by Laurent Nkunda's rebels.

The fighting between the rebels and the Congolese army has heightened the need for food assistance, as hundreds of thousands flee their homes, leaving behind their farms and belongings.

WFP is providing food assistance to a total of 145,000 displaced people near Goma and has completed distributions to almost 100,000 people in Rutshuru and Kiwanja, in rebel-held territory.

A further three camps in rebel-held areas in the Masisi region have received WFP food over the past week. About 25,000 displaced people in two Kitchanga camps and 11,000 in Kilolirwe were provided with rations that will last 30 days.

Persistent insecurity

Despite a pull-back by rebels in the north-east, the persistent insecurity is preventing WFP from reaching many of the displaced. Heavy rains have also hampered food convoys from reaching the towns of Masisi and Lushebere, which are virtually cut off.

“We urge all parties in the conflict to put in place mechanisms that will allow humanitarian staff safe and unhindered access to people who are in desperate need,” said Carlos Veloso, WFP’s Emergency Coordinator for the eastern DRC crisis.

WFP estimates that a total of 1.3 million displaced people and host family members are in need of food assistance in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.